After Mike Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson on August 9, his body lay on the ground for four hours. But an investigation of police records, conducted by St. Louis Post-Dispatch, concludes that the encounter leading up to Brown’s death was less than 90 seconds long.
Due to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, which keeps public government bodies’ records open to the public, the Post-Dispatch accessed interviews, radio calls, EMS records, and video surveillance from the Ferguson Police Department for its report. According to the publication’s findings, a dispatcher alerted officers about a theft at a convenience store at 11:53, which Brown was accused of after the shooting. At 12:02, Wilson told dispatchers he was on Canfield, where he told Brown and friend Dorian Johnson to stop walking in the middle of the street. He then realized that Brown matched the description of the theft suspect.
Wilson asserts that Brown attacked him and that the two struggled for the officer’s gun before Wilson grabbed it and shot Brown one time. He also claims that Brown ran away after the scuffle, so the officer allegedly chased him on foot until Brown turned and charged at him. Wilson says he fired once, hesitated, then continued firing.
But witnesses say the incident happened differently, although many of their accounts are inconsistent. Johnson claims that Brown had his hands in the air as he got to the ground, and that is when Wilson shot him. Others say Brown “walked, staggered, stumbled or fell toward Wilson before he was killed.” And some say his hands were not in the air.
A tweet from an eyewitness about Brown’s shooting was sent at 12:03, a mere 61 seconds after dispatchers confirmed that Wilson stopped Brown and Johnson.
Just days later, and a few miles away from Ferguson, officers confronted and killed another black man, Kajieme Powell, in 15 seconds. A video of that encounter showed police drive up to Powell and immediately start shooting.
A grand jury decision as to whether or not Wilson will be indicted for Brown’s death will be released any day now. In preparation for the verdict, and the subsequent public response, 1,000 officers participated in special training, and police departments stocked up on new gear. Governor Nixon says he will call the Missouri National Guard if violence escalates. Local businesses are boarding up their stores with wood. And clergy from around St. Louis are training to act as peacekeepers during the anticipated civil unrest.